Monday, October 20, 2008

Of Course None Of It Matters


But I suspect this line may have thrilled some:

Low dishonesty and craven cynicism sometimes win the day but not inevitably. The attempt to link Barack Obama to an old radical in his neighborhood has desperation and deceit written all over it.

Let us now examine his reasons:

Sorry, there aren’t any. You’ll have to take him at his word that it’s low, dishonest, craven, cynical, desperate, and deceitful. And if you weren’t paying any attention, you might believe that the entire affair can be accurately described as “an attempt to link” Sen. Obama to “an old radical in his neighborhood,” as if some harmless old Bolshie lived down the street, and they’d occasionally nod while taking out the recycling.

It’s possible that Keillor has no idea of the connections between Sen. Obama and Bill Ayers (and his wife, she of the famous endorsement of starlet-stabbing), in which case it’s proof that his column slides unedited down the gullet of modern journalism. This would not make him the most uninformed columnist in the country, but he would certainly be above average. If he does know, though, and chooses to regard discussion of the relationship as beyond the realm of civilized political discourse, well, the standards have certainly changed. Or rather the old standards are being selectively applied.
Here are the curious facts of modern politics:

1. Ayers was dedicated to killing American soldiers to ensure that Vietnam was ruled by Communists.

2. Ayers is unrepentant, and proudly posed for a photo standing on an American flag.

3. This is irrelevant. It is irrelevant to then, because the cause was just, if the execution was irrationally exuberant; it is irrelevant to today, because Ayers is now an educator, and a respected member of the intelligentsia.

4. This says nothing about education or the intellegentsia, except to attest to their broad-mindedness.

5. There is nothing wrong with Ayers, but nevertheless his associations with Sen. Obama – the fund-raising at his house, the Woods Foundation, the Annenberg Challenge, the book blurb – are circumstantial, tenuous, and meaningless, because A) Obama was 8 when the crimes occurred, and thus unable to give the full-throated condemnation he later felt, but managed to suppress while coming up the ranks of Chicago politics; B) one could not avoid Ayers in Chicago, which is a very small city; C) if Obama did feel deep distaste, there was never really a good time to bring it up, and D) many other respectable people had no problem associating with the fellow, and E) Ayers is not advising him now, any more than, say, Louis Farrakhan is. The last point is important, because it means we should trust Obama’s judgment. He’s the kind of fellow who turns out not to seek Ayers’ advice when running for national office. And that's enough.

Now. You have to ask yourself how the media would cover a long-standing association between John McCain and a fellow who, in the hurly-burly-mixed-up-folderol of the Civil Rights Era, went a little too far and burned some Black churches, or led a group devoted to blowing up abortion clinics. Mind you, he was never convicted – technicalities, which was ironic, because Conservatives hate those – but he went on to serve on school boards and charity foundations that advocated for States’ Rights, an issue dear to conservative hearts. Imagine the deets are the same – cozy fundraisers, serving on the same boards, McCain’s name on Bomber Bob’s memoir. Add to that some other parallels – say, McCain attended a church that praised a fellow who believed black people were descended from the devil, and believed Jesus was an Aryan.

John McCain wouldn’t be the nominee, and if by some chance that happened, this association would be draped around his neck every day.

You may disagree with this, but I don’t think I’ve attempted any deceit here. Deceit would entail lying about what Ayers did, and insisting they had a connection when there was none. You could say it’s almost deceitful to say there’s nothing there whatsoever, but that’s up for debate. But you can imagine Keillor writing 14 pre-election columns that never mentioned the McCain friend who tried to blow up a Planned Parenthood clinic. I think it would matter, and it wouldn’t be “desperation” to point it out.

I don’t think Obama shares Ayers’ views now, if ever; he strikes me as an intellectual Zelig. But it’s interesting how nothing matters. No, amend that – the small things matter, which is why Joe the Plumber has to be vetted, and Biden’s gaffes ignored. The big things are in the past, and the past is irrelevant. The past matters only if it has a sin that proves the stain inherent in the culture, a stain that will be washed out in the coming reign of goodness and light. The past is a stone, and you can’t run towards the sun unless you drop it, and tell yourself you’re starting anew with every step you take.

Odd how the sun always seems to be the same distance away, no matter how light you travel. Well, there must be a shadowy group that's pushing it out of our grasp. Find them!

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